Friday, January 27, 2012

Needy People

We are born with needs, but as we grow we develop wants.  Sometimes we have difficulty distinguishing between the two.  Our cravings for a particular thing often cause us to see it as a need rather than a want.

Everyone is "needy" on some level.  Babies are born with needs for virtually everything due to their helpless state.  They need someone to feed them, to change their diaper and to love them.  They need shelter and clothing to protect them from the elements.  They are dependent.

Neediness takes many forms.  In the summer of 2009, I had the opportunity to go to Niger.  The needs there are great.  The people live in a very harsh environment and have been victimized by colonial and later by corrupt governments.  They are extremely poor and have little opportunity to escape their poverty.  The needs for basic things like adequate food and health care are great.  Their needs are obvious.

Last January I had the opportunity to go to Kenya.  It is a country with very different conditions than Niger.  Kenya has an excellent climate and the opportunity to be highly productive.  However, it too suffered first at the hands of a colonial government and then later at the hands of inept or corrupt officials.  The greater problem in Kenya lay not in the desire of the government to do good for its people, but in a false understanding of how to accomplish that goal.  Their focus was on industrial growth rather than on building a strong agricultural sector to serve as the foundation of the country's economy.  They skipped a step in their development and have paid for it by dependency on other countries to feed their people.

The needs in Kenya are also obvious.  Many of the impoverished people of the rural areas have been struck by the AIDS pandemic.  The number of widows and orphans throughout the country is not only a sad testament to moral failure, but places an inordinate burden on the economy.  Their needs also are obvious.

In the United States, the needs are less obvious.  There are pockets of poverty in our inner cities and in certain areas dependent on a particular industry that has suffered loss of vitality either to foreign competition or to changing technology.  But, even in those areas the level of poverty is nothing like other palces in the world such as Niger or Kenya or even parts of Mexico and Latin America to our south.

There is also the need for affordable health care for many people.  There are merits to the desire of the current administration to find a way to insure that all people in this country receive adequate health care.  I believe their approach is wrong, but this post is not the place to discuss my reasons for thinking so.  Suffice it to say that many in the U.S. do not receive the best medical care available due to either the lack of insurance or the lack of funds.

All of the needs discussed in the above paragraphs could be met.  There is sufficient wealth in the world to see that everyone is fed, clothed, sheltered and receives the best possible medical care.  Some, such as those currently in power in Washington, make the case publicly that these problems could be solved by redistributing the wealth of those who have accumulated what they deem to be excessive amounts.  This won't solve the problem.  When you take from the producers and give to the non-producers, you take away the incentive to produce.  In the end, the result is less for everyone.

Re-distribution is not the answer.  Love and compassion is.

Love is another basic human need.  We all want to feel valued and appreciated.  We all need to be wanted.  That need is the reason for many of the ills that people suffer.  They fail to recognize that to get love they must give it.  They instead try to "take" it in various forms by exercising power over other people.  Love is the anti-power.  It is giving instead of taking.

Why do we "look for love in all the wrong places?"  I think it is because of our selfishness.  We see ourselves as self-sufficient -- after all, we have learned how to gain food, shelter and clothing.  We think that we must be able to gain, through our efforts, the last necessity missing in our lives -- love.  So, we focus on self and our own efforts.  Self-focus is the anti-God.  It is a failure to recognize dependence on the only One who can meet all of our needs.  It replaces the true God, Creator of all, with the false god of self.

The only true solution to neediness is God.  The only way to find God is to first recognize that we cannot of our own efforts reach Him.  That is why He had to be the one to provide the way for us.  That is why He came to earth in human form as the man Jesus.  That is why God alone could provide the means for us to come into His presence.  It was the only way because otherwise, it would just be our own efforts.  Look what our those efforts have created; a world of need.

Tomorrow I will post something beginning with "O."  As always, suggestions are appreciated.  I see there was one in the comments on yesterday's post.  Hmmm......we'll see.


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